IT’S just the semifinals of the 10th Shakey’s V-League First Conference but University of Santo Tomas and two-time defending champion Ateneo collide in the opener of a best-of-three series that has all the trimmings of a titular showdown.
The six-time champion Tigresses face the Lady Eagles in the 2 p.m. opener of a scheduled doubleheader on Tuesday that is expected to attract a good-sized crowd at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
Unbeaten National University collides with Adamson in their own best-of-three series at 4 p.m.
The last time the four marquee trams saw action on the same playdate, hundreds of fans had to be turned away at The Arena in San Juan, prompting the move to the bigger Philsports Arena in Pasig and the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City for the playoffs.
Although UST ended the quarterfinals with a perfect 3-0 record in Group B ahead of Ateneo (2-1), the Katipunan-based squad still has the edge over its fierce rival owing to its 25-23, 25-23, 25-20, win in their first meeting in the eliminations last April 7.
Already boasting a formidable lineup that had guest player Rachel Anne Daquis combining with Alyssa Valdez and Fille Cainglet, the Lady Eagles get an extra firepower following the acquisition of two-time MVP and Thai reinforcement Jeng Bualee, who previously suited up for San Sebastian until the Lady Stags were eliminated.
“Obviously, we’re the underdogs because they have talented reinforcements in (Jaroensri) Bualee and (Rachel) Daquis, whom we expect to have problems with,” said UST mentor Odjie Mamon after the Tigresses secured a semifinal berth with a hard-earned 21-25, 25-18, 25-22, 19-25, 15-11 victory over Perpetual Help last Thursday.
“So we have to really work hard and concentrate on executing our plays,” added Mamon, who will bank on stalwarts Maika Ortiz, Aiza Maizo, Jessey de Leon, Pamela Lastimosa, and Carmela Tunay.
Meanwhile, the Lady Bulldogs try to extend their winning streak to eight in Game One of their semis showdown with the Lady Falcons.
Dindin and Jaja Santiago are again expected to lead NU, but will also get able support from Myla Pablo and Aiko Urdas.
The Lady Falcons will rely on their vaunted defense to counter the Lady Bulldogs' attacks.
NU finished with a 3-0 record on top of Group A after the quarterfinals, while Adamson finished second with a 2-1 card in Group B.
Guest player Angela Benting, skipper Pau Soriano, and Bhebs Pineda will lead the charge for the Lady Falcons.